St. Barbara Church
4008 Prairie Ave.
Brookfield, IL 60513



Weekday Masses:
8:00am Monday through Saturday

Weekend Masses:
5:00pm on Saturday Sunday: 7:30am and 10:00am; 12:30pm in Spanish

Mass Holy Days:
7:00pm on the day; See current bulletin for any changes.

The History of St. Barbara Parish

In 1911, a handful of devout laity, met to discuss establishment of a Catholic Church in the Village of Brookfield, Illinois. At that time, Brookfield was just another Burlington Railroad stop, with dirt roads, wooden sidewalks and gas lights, where about 350 people resided. Mr. Ricker, a real estate developer, very generously offered three lots on Prairie Ave., and agreed to help defray some of the expense in building, if the new Church would be named for his mother, Barbara, and in honor of the virgin-martyr of the early church with the same name. About 63 resident families, tired of walking to LaGrange to St. Francis Xavier Parish for Sunday services and under the guidance of Father Joseph C. Bollman, the pastor of St. Francis Xavier in LaGrange, petitioned Archbishop Quigley of Chicago for permission to build their own church. It was granted.

Old Church 1912Sunday Mass was held in the village hall until the new church was completed. The first mass of St. Barbara parish was officially offered on May 18, 1912. In August, 1912 the cornerstone of St. Barbara Church was blessed and construction of the new church began. St. Barbara remained a “Mission Church” under the banner of St. Francis Xavier, until 1916, when its first pastor, Fr. Jules Fortin was appointed.

Father Thomas L. Harmon succeeded Father Fortin on 1920. By 1923, the parish had tripled its number to 300 families. Fr. Harmon purchased the home at 4032 Prairie when he first came to the parish to be used as a rectory. In 1923, he sold the home and made plans to begin building a combination school, church and rectory. The cornerstone for this new building was laid October 30, 1923. Second Church 1924The building was completed on February 7, 1924, and was solemnly blessed on February 10th by Reverend William A. Foley. The completion of a second building project within a little more than ten years was a fresh triumph for the active parish. Seating capacity of the new Church was 600. The school section of the building had six classrooms and there were ample priests’ quarters on the second floor above the school behind the Church.

Under Father O’Brien, two more classrooms and an assembly hall (the school annex) were built to accommodate the growing school enrollment of 259 pupils. By this time, it was also necessary to have more than two Masses on Sunday, and the Benedictine Fathers of Lisle generously offered their assistance then, and continued to do so for many years. On September 30, 1931 Father O’Brien died and was succeeded by Father Patrick Buckley. During those years, Father Buckley sought permission from the chancery to build a new St. Barbara Church. When denied permission to build, he invested the parish surplus money (this was before it was required to bank excess funds with the Archdiocese) in war bonds, which then matured generously into enough to pay off in total the new rectory and convent, built in 1948 under Father Daniel J Stokes. Father Buckley left on January 10, 1946 and Father Stokes became St. Barbara’s sixth pastor on January 19, 1946. Father Stokes built the existing convent and rectory in 1948. The buildings were dedicated by Cardinal Stritch in 1949. In April 1950, Father Edmund N. Tyrrell became the seventh pastor. Under Father Tyrrell , a new school opened in 1954, and the convent was enlarged in 1952 to accommodate 12 Sisters of St. Joseph. A fire in the old church in 1954 necessitated a new sanctuary, and this offered the chance to build a Church annex to accommodate the overflow at Sunday Masses. The debt on the new school had grown to $300,000, a heavy one for the parish of 1,527 families. Then, on October 5, 1955 St. Louise de Marillac parish was formed to include the north side of Brookfield, resulting in St. Barbara losing about 25 percent of their parishioners. Now there were only 1,151 families to shoulder the debt. Father Tyrrell died suddenly on February 21, 1956, and on July 7, 1956, Monsignor Joseph T. Kush became St. Barbara Parish’s eighth pastor. Monsignor Kush was pastor of St. Barbara for 16 years (1956 – 1972). St. Barbara quietly celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1962, with little fanfare, due to parish drives for the funds to build a new church. Cardinal Cody approved the new church, but when the approval came, Monsignor Kush requested moving the rectory 150 feet south on the property to make room for the new Church. The architect had been asked to plan a church to accommodate 1,000 people in the property south of the rectory, but with the necessary 15 foot setbacks and fire regulations, it could not be done. There was simply not enough room.

Present ChurchOn Saturday, March 1, 1969, the first Mass in the new Church was celebrated.  On October 6, 1969 the altar was consecrated by Bishop Dempsey.  On Saturday, May 2nd, the eve of the dedication, Monsignor Kush celebrated his 35th anniversary as a priest at a parish party in the Windemere Room of the school.  Sunday, May 3, 1970, Cardinal  Cody presided at Mass and the ceremony of dedication for the new church.  Bishop Dempsey and former priests of St Barbara Parish concelebrated the Mass.

Having taught music to seminarians, Monsignor Kush had a great love for liturgical music.  In 1965 he obtained the services of Robert J. Batastini to form and direct a church choir.  From this beginning grew a music program that at one point included several choirs.  The St. Barbara Singers and Resurrection Choir continue to this day.  In 1979 the St. Barbara Singers had the honor of singing for His Holiness, Pope John Paul II during his visit to Chicago.

September 26, 1972 Monsignor Kush was named Pastor Emeritus and Monsignor John B. Hayes was named pastor.  During his tenure the parish debt was paid off. 

On October 1, 1979 Father Donald J. Hughes became the 10th pastor. He continued the original plans to build a Parish Center, containing a large multipurpose room with a stage and gym, Prairie Rooms A & B, Kindergarten (now Prairie Room C), Music Center, Kitchen, Offices for Pastoral Care and the Athletic Department, plus utility and storage spaces. The new structure was dedicated June 13, 1982. Monsignor Hayes officiated at the blessing of the corner stone a year before his death. The Parish Center was solemnly dedicated by His Eminence, Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, on February 20, 1983, just three weeks after he became a Cardinal of the Church.

2016 was the year in which St. Barbara Parish celebrated its first century of existence. In the year leading to the centennial, the parish built momentum by celebrating various special events that brought the people together. These events culminated with a Centennial Gala at Brookfield Zoo. Then, on October 16, 2016, the parish gathered to celebrate its 100 Anniversary mass officiated by Cardinal Elect at the time, Blaise Cupich. For slideshows of the Centenial click here.

Past to Present Pastors…

1912-1916 - Rev. Joseph Bollman (Chaplain)
1916-1920 - Rev. Jules Fortin
1920-1924 - Rev. Thomas Harmon
1924-1924 - Rev. P.M. Griffin
1924-1931 - Rev. John O’Brien
1931-1946 - Rev. Patrick Buckley
1946-1950 - Rev. Daniel Stokes
1950-1956 - Rev. Edmund Tyrrell
1956-1972 - Rev. Msgr. Joseph Kush
1972-1979 - Rev. Msgr. John Hayes
1979-1991 - Rev. Donald Hughes
1991-2003 - Rev. Maurice Kissane
2003-2009 - Rev. James Murphy
2009-2016 - Rev. Robert Casey
2016...        - Rev. Edgar Rodriguez

St. Barbara School

St. Barbara School first opened in September 1924, with four Sisters of Saint Joseph assigned to teach full time in the new school building. Those pioneers were Sisters Virginia, Elizabeth, Fidelis and Agatha – who hand carried all their supplies, books and lunches as they traveled daily from the Motherhouse in LaGrange. In 1931, with school enrollment up to 300, two more classrooms and an assembly hall were added. In 1939, the first four resident Sisters moved into 4004 Prairie, while the remaining Sisters commuted by their “mission bus” to and from LaGrange. In 1948 the new convent built at 4000 Forest Avenue became the permanent residence of all Sisters teaching at St. Barbara’s School. With enrollment almost to 800, Father Tyrrell began work on a new school building in 1954. The school contains 14 classrooms, a library, and a large meeting/lunchroom facility, now called the Windemere room. The old school building, built in 1923, was demolished in 1980 for the construction of the new Parish Center. After surviving many waves of school closings in the Chicago Archdiocese, St. Barbara graduated its last class in 2013. Parish children, over 200 each year for the past few years, come to religious education classes, still held in the school. Many Sisters of St. Joseph served St. Barbara School, and then in 1992, a lay woman. The Sisters of St. Joseph have been a constant presence at St. Barbara Parish for these 100 years. Besides their presence in the school, they have been actively involved in the food pantry, pastoral care, administrative assistant and receptionist.